Bakersfield, CA – Travis Thirkettle came to Irwindale Speedway (CA) with one thing on his mind, redemption. Thirkettle had crossed the line first at the “October Classic” at Kern County Raceway Park (CA) three weeks ago, but failed post-race inspection, wiping out win number six of the season. Saturday night, he returned to his home track and dominated the Spears Modified Series “Factory Canopies 60 presented by Lucas Oil”, taking home $2,000 for his efforts on the ½-mile oval. The victory did not dampen the spirits of 2022 Spears Modified Series champion Jaron Giannini, however, as the series rookie claimed the championship by only starting the feature event in a 15-car field.
Thirkettle served notice in qualifying, earning the PFC Brakes “Zero Drag Fast Time Award” with a lap of 18.881 seconds, just beating Andrew Anderson by 0.014 seconds. A consistent Jaron Giannini slotted in third, with Travis McCullough, Kevin Vossen, William Guevara, Nathan Byrd, and Holly Clark the redraw participants. The redraw found Vossen pulling the “ace” to sit on the pole, flanked by Byrd, Guevara, Thirkettle, Clark, McCullough, Giannini, and Anderson.
The start saw Byrd jump to the lead from the preferred outside groove with Thirkettle following, in a three-wide move, to sit second after lap one. McCullough was on the early move from sixth, getting to third by lap-two, in three-wide action. Anderson took advantage of the action and moved to fourth by lap-three, using the high outside lane. On lap-four, Thirkettle was already challenging Byrd for the lead, diving to the inside, looking for the lead. Meanwhile Anderson was dive-bombing McCullough for third, taking the spot on lap-six. On lap seven, Thirkettle was able to get under Byrd coming off of Turn 2, grabbing the lead before the field crossed the line on lap eight.
Anderson was able to follow Thirkettle to grab the runner-up spot a lap later, to set up a duel between the Irwindale combatants from last September. Meanwhile a four-car pack, battling for sixth, raged on behind Giannini in fourth, and Jimmy Sloan, involving Guevara, Clark, Vossen, and Stephan Brucker. The action cooled a few laps later, as the yellow flew for a spin by one-time leader Byrd.
The restart saw Giannini get the advantage of McCullough, moving to third, as Thirkettle and Anderson moved away to settle the battle for the lead amongst themselves. As the laps began to tick away, the best battle inside the top-five was for fourth, as Sloan continued to dip inside of McCullough for the position, with Guevara close behind. On lap 47, the caution came out for an Aaron Coonfield spin, setting up a 13-lap run to the checkered.
The restart saw the top-three of Thirkettle, Anderson and Giannini single file, but Sloan went back to work on McCullough, as the duo ran side-by-side with McCullough up high on the bumper of Giannini. Sloan began to make hay in the lower groove and pulled to the inside of Giannini for several laps, before the tires began to heat up, and he began to fall back into the clutches of McCullough. At the same time, Giannini began to pressure Anderson for second, pulling ahead on the low-side in the middle of the turns, as Sloan got back by McCullough for fourth. The trio of Anderson, Giannini and Sloan battled hard for the second position, by ultimately Anderson was able to hold off the duo.
At the checkered, Thirkettle was able to score his sixth victory of the season, with Anderson, Giannini, Sloan, and McCullough the top-five. William Guevara came home sixth with Stephen Bruckler Holly Clark, Kevin Vossen and Nathan Bird the top-ten.
Giannini was able to secure the Spears Modified Series title with an incredibly consistent season earning two victories, seven top-three and eight top-10 finishes in eight events. He needed to only start this weekend’s feature to score the title but earned yet another top-three. He also added the Rookie-of the Year Title to his 2022 season.
The next event for the Spears Modified Series will be the season opening “All-Star Showdown” at Irwindale Speedway on January 21st. 21 Modified made the trip to Irwindale in 2022.
Results: 1. Travis Thirkettle, 2. Andrew Anderson, 3. Jaron Giannini*, 4. Jimmy Sloan*, 5. Travis McCullough, 6. William Guevara, 7. Stephen Brucker, 8. Holly Clark*, 9. Kevin Vossen*, 10. Nathan Byrd, 11. Adam Coonfield, 12. Anthony Barket, 13. AJ DiMarzo, 14. Aaron Coonfield, 15. Ray Mros*